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Dusk at Portugal’s new Quinta Bonita

 

Best summer holiday deals for 2012

Left it late again? Don’t panic, we’ve rounded up the best late-deal summer holidays, from gorgeous family houses in West Sussex to a beach retreat in Barbados

The Guardian Gemma Bowes,

Portugal

The western Algarve is relatively unspoilt compared with the rest of the region, so aim for fishing villages, such as white-washed Burgau, 10 minutes’ drive west of Lagos and 90km west of Faro airport. Sagres, on the south-west tip of the country, is popular with surfers and campervanners, and is near Martinhal beach and a collection of islands. Aljezur, further north in the Costa Vicentina national park, is close to some rugged Atlantic beaches, good for families or for surfing; or head to Monchique, a charming, craft-making market town surrounded by the small Serra de Monchique mountain range and pine and eucalyptus forest.

See secretplaces.com for a few flash hotels and apartments in the area, or i-escape.com/portugal for stylish low-key places.

Lagos is a walled town with some good beaches; a new boutique hotel, Quinta Bonita (+351 282 762 135, boutiquehotelalgarve.com), which is family-run and has availability through the summer and a special offer for all of July: a week costs £1,244 (£160 off) for two people sharing, including double room, car hire, breakfast and afternoon tea.

Porto is Portugal’s beautiful, jumbled second city. It’s on the Douro river estuary, fantastic for wine and food, architecture, plazas and culture, stylish bars down tiny back streets, and lovely hotels. You can easily walk into the vineyards and port wine-making valleys, or hire a car and explore further afield. North of the city up to the Spanish border is a green hilly landscape, with long sandy beaches surrounded by pine forests. The region of Minho, or the Costa Verde, is home to the national park of Peneda Geres, good for hiking and tasting sparkling white wine, visiting the gold filigree workshops in Travassos, and swimming in the Ermal reservoir.

Find a casa with a pool at casasdacabreira.co.uk, one sleeping eight costs around £1,000 in July/ August, or six around £740; there are four hotels available too.

Flights to Porto from Heathrow or Gatwick start from around £170 return in July with Tap (flytap.com), or fly Ryanair (ryanair.com) from Liverpool (around £100 in July or August) or Stansted (£150-200).

Head to the amazing Azores for whale-watching, diving, swimming with dolphins, walks through tea and pineapple plantations, geothermic pools and tropical gardens. Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk) has a week in the islands in July for £695pp, based on seven nights at the Hotel Vila Nova in Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel, including flights from Gatwick.

 

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